Police Commissioner Dr Dwayne Gibbs yesterday distanced himself from Wednesday’s destruction of the Highway Re-Route Movement’s protest camp in Debe and the detention of its leader, Dr Wayne Kublalsingh. Gibbs issued a written response yesterday which was presented by public information officer, Sgt Wayne Mystar, at the daily media briefing at the Police Administration Building, Port-of-Spain. Titled “Bringing Clarity to Events”. the four-paragraph statement read: “At no time was the Commissioner of Police apprised or consulted that there would be the removal of the Highway Protest Camp.” Referring to “a number of inaccurate statements recently made in media outlets regarding the events which occurred at a location in South Trinidad,” Gibbs’ statement sought to “correct any misconceptions so that our citizens can be properly informed on such subjects that are understandably very important to their safety, security and quality of life.”
The statement said around 5.30 am on Wednesday “the Assistant Commissioner of Police, South, was contacted by the Minister of National Security who requested police at the location. “In the interest of keeping peace and maintaining order, four police officers were sent to the location. “In the media, reference has been made to heavily-armed police officers at the scene. That statement is incorrect. The heavily-armed officers at the scene were not members of the TTPS but of the Defence Force. “In the interest of maintaining the peace, police removed one individual from the scene and shortly thereafter, he was released from police custody.
“The TTPS is conducting an investigation into reports of allegations of a criminal nature which may have occurred.” Questioned immediately after reading the statement, Mystar confirmed no charges had been laid against Kublalsingh.
He emphasised that National Security Minister Jack Warner had made a “request” for police officers and had not “instructed or ordered” officers to destroy the camp and arrest people, as was being reported. He explained that while soldiers still do not possess powers of arrest, Defence Force personnel can detain anyone they consider a threat, which was done. Mystar repeated one man had been detained and no protocol had been breached as he was later handed over to police officers who arrived at the scene after the camp had been destroyed. He denied any cover-up of the events on Wednesday morning and again said: “The Commissioner of Police did not issue any instructions to officers.” Contacted yesterday, Regiment officials said they had “assisted the police in the course of their duty.” Following a call by Mystar on Wednesday for people who felt “violated” to lodge complaints with the Police Complaints Authority, officials said up to yesterday “no official complaints had been received.